A quick, no-dig gardening method for potatoes, squash, beans and more


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Digging a garden to ready it for planting is very hard work, and my ability to do this has become limited in recent years. Because of this I have been experimenting with many different ways to make the work of planting easier. Spring is coming up fast, so I thought I would share what I have learned. :)

At first I tried various mulching techniques, all of which worked, but still required some shovel digging here and there in order to prepare the rows. Meanwhile the cost of hay and straw bales, even old ones, was something that I was trying to avoid. I eventually filled an old bathtub with potting soil for a lettuce bed, and I also converted an old livestock watering tank into a raised container, but to set these up I still had to have quite a bit of help.

Finally last spring I hit on a no-dig planting method which didn't involve using potting soil, containers or mulch. I broke out my trusty lightweight string trimmer and picked an area which I wanted to plant. Some wethers had been in there a couple of years before, so the ground was very rich. I trimmed the grass right down to the dirt, running the trimmer along the surface of the soil. I made sure I wore safety glasses because those trimmings can really fly!

Once I had exposed the ground, I went out to the compost pile with a hand trowel and a small bucket, and leisurely hand dug some good fluffy compost. Taking it to my garden spot, I dumped it in a hill on the bare ground. I then soaked it well with the hose and repeated this procedure over a period of days, making about three hills a day. After a week, I planted pumpkin seeds and acorn squash in the hills.

It wasn't long before they sprouted. I kept them well watered and had to use Sluggo for the first few weeks, as there are millions of slugs in our part of the state. I weeded the tops of the compost hills by hand, but kept the bulk of weeds away with the trimmer. In a couple of months the plants had grown huge, rooting right into the ground, and weeding was no longer necessary!

This year I am going to plant the whole garden in this manner. Smarter gardeners than I have no doubt been using this technique for years, but for me it was a revelation! :D
 
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Sounds like a great solution and it worked out for you! You must have a big space to do this, and sadly I don't! Your pumpkins and squashes must love you very much :)
 
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This is a great topic! My hubby and I have also been tossing the idea of using an alternative method for some of our garden plants thus year. Last year we has a record amount of rain that flooded most of our garden. The crop was almost a total loss. I have seen some ideas on Pinterest using pallets in the garden. I even thought about putting our herbs in hanging baskets this year too. I am afraid we will spend tons of money on seed and fertilizer this year, only to loose the crop to rains again.
 
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That is the most tedious part of gardening - the preparation of the soil. I would see my husband and housemaids pulling the weeks and then burrowing a bit as if to clean the soil of stones and other hard objects. Not done yet, compost will be applied and the planting will start on the next day. I had said time and again that I am not the gardener because I hate that chore of pulling the weeds and digging on the ground.
 
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Tracey, I have the flooding problem too. We live in a river valley and it floods almost every year when it's been raining and the tide is high. Last winter the garden filled up to three feet deep in places. The gravel bar underneath is the only thing that saves it, because the water drains away almost as fast as it arrives.

The pallets sound like a good idea. They would be weighted by the planters, so they probably wouldn't go anywhere.

Corzhens, "tedious" is the perfect word for it! I have even seen people who had to sift their garden soil with giant screens to get all the rocks out before they could plant. It was almost like an archaeological dig! :)
 

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